Webster, Noah, Lld
Webster, Noah, LL.D.
the lexicographer, was a learned layman of the Congregational Church, and born in Hartford, Connecticut, October 16, 1758. Under the guidance of Reverend Nathan Perkins, he was fitted for college, and entered Yale in 1774, at the age of sixteen. The Revolution seriously interrupted the college exercises, and in his junior year he joined the army. Notwithstanding, he graduated with his class in 1778. After graduation he was occupied more or less in teaching, and also in the study of law with Oliver Ellsworth, of Hartford, afterwards Chief-justice of the United States. In 1781 he was admitted to the bar, but still taught school; and for a time was principal of an academy in Goshen, N.Y. In 1782 he conceived the plan of preparing and publishing a series of school-books, and returned from Goshen to Hartford; and in the following year published the American Spelling-book. Soon after he issued an English Grammar and a
Reader. The spelling-book attained an unprecedented popularity. Five million copies had been issued up to 1818, and in the year 1847, 24,000,000 had been published. After that time the annual demand was about 1,250,000 copies. Since 1861 the sale has been about 500,000 copies annually. Among his publications may be mentioned, Sketches of American Policy (1784-85):-Dissertations on the English Language (1789): — Effects of Slavery on Morals and Industry, etc. In 1788 he began the publication, in New York, of the American Magazine; in 1793 he established there a daily paper called the Minerva; and afterwards a semi- weekly paper known as the Herald. Between 1783 and 1822 his time was passed at Hartford, New Haven, New York, and Amherst. He removed from Amherst to New Haven in 1822, and made that place his residence until his death. His great work is, of course, his Dictionary of the English Language, which he began in 1807. Preliminary to this, he had published, in 1806, an octavo dictionary. In 1823 he received the degree of LL.D. from Yale College; and then, having nearly completed his large dictionary, he sailed for France, in June 1824; spent two months at Paris in consulting rare works in the Royal Library and then went to England, spending eight months at the University of Cambridge, with free access to the libraries. There he finished the American Dictionary. An edition of 2500 copies was printed in the United States at the close of 1828, which was followed by an edition of 3000 in England. In 1840 a second American edition was issued- 3000 copies in two volumes. In 1843 he published a volume entitled A Collection of Papers on Political, Literary, and Moral Subjects. As a religious man, Dr. Webster was earnest and prayerful, having united with the Church in 1808. The Bible was his daily study, and he prepared a revised edition of the common English version (New Haven, 1833, 8vo). He died at New Haven, May 28, 1843. See Cong. Quar. 1865, page 1.